Letter of Recommendation Guidelines

Glenn’s Letter of Recommendation Guidelines

Background: I am more than glad to write letters of recommendation for most of my students. I realize how important such letters are, and I also realize how difficult it can be for students to find people willing to write a good letter. Primarily, I am an advocate for my students and I fully believe that your success is my success. If you received a good grade in my class, generally, I will recommend you for a variety of job-related and graduate-school-related positions. The great majority of my students are people I believe in and are people who I am glad to support in future endeavors.

Procedural Issues: Writing letters for students tends to be a relatively big job with deadlines attached. Thus, it is immensely helpful for me when students deal with procedural issues in a highly organized manner. Here are some specific suggestions that help me with the process:

1. Before you submit any materials to me (IF YOU ARE LOCAL) come to my office hours (posted on my webpage: www.glenngeher.com) to discuss the possibility of me writing you a letter – this meeting will allow me to get a sense of your interests and goals and will allow me to ensure that you are currently informed regarding the guidelines outlined herein. If you are not local, contact me by email to work out these details.

2. Generally, you need to get relevant materials to me at least 3 weeks before the first letter is due. Thus, for example, if you need a letter from me that’s due December 1, I’ll need to have the form (if electronic, which is most likely, in my inbox) no later than November 10. If I don’t have the form in my inbox within this timeframe, I can’t guarantee that I’ll be able to submit it on time. Also, there is an important exception to this rule when it comes to the end of Fall semester. If you do not get me all relevant materials before December 5 of a given Fall semester, I will not necessarily be able to get the letters out until the following February 1.

3. I request that information for all schools come in a single batch. This helps me enormously with organizing this work. Thus, for instance, if you are applying to 8 programs, I request to have letter-of-rec requests in my inbox for all eight sent to me within the same 24-hour period. (note that sometimes this is not feasible, and I understand that – but this is my request – it helps me a bunch).

4. Organize all materials in a clear way.

ELECTRONIC: If the school requests an electronic form be submitted from me:

… for each program, I’ll need you to …

(a) complete the form as fully as possible – including any contact information that is requested for me (see my contact info (address, phone #, title (professor of psychology), etc.) at end of this page).

(b) make sure it gets into my inbox at least THREE WEEKS ahead of the due date.

(c) be prepared in case there are technical errors in the process – the online forms sometimes have technical glitches – in such a case, I contact the student via email requesting the email address of the graduate program coordinator and request that I simply email that person my letter of rec – so be prepared – if there’s a problem (there are often is one – given the nature of technology), you should expect this kind of request from me.

(d) provide a letter to me via email briefly indicating what kinds of programs you are applying to (e.g., MSW programs) and indicating the due dates for each letter of recommendation. In this same letter, let me know the following:
* What classes you took (or are taking) with me (if any)
* What grades you received in said classes
* If you are/were my advisee
* The year you graduated (if you are an alumnus)
* If you conducted research with me on some specific project(s)

(e) please make sure that I receive the batch of email prompts to write letters within the same 24-hour period (in other words, for example, if you’re applying to five programs, I should get the emails about the five letters within the same 24-hour period (ideally)). This helps me organize the process.

 

PAPER (please try to avoid if there’s an option – let’s go with electronic): If the school requests a form via old-fashioned paper format:

… for each program, provide

(a) an addressed and stamped envelope (including the address to which the letter should be sent) AND

(b) the form that the university includes for letters of recommendation.

if the program does not have a form, type a brief statement indicating exactly what they do ask for – and include that statement (attached via paperclip) with the corresponding addressed envelope.

B. Attach each form to the appropriate envelope via paperclip (seriously!). Put all forms and envelopes in a large manila envelope with your name on the outside. Note that the second I am done with your letters, I like to get them right in the mail (and get onto whatever’s next!). Even if you expect to see me relatively soon, and figure that you can just pick the completed letters up from me in person, I strongly urge you to provide materials so that I can get everything in the mail when I’m done writing them.

C. If some letters are to be sent to you, not to a University directly, indicate so.

D. Provide a cover letter to me briefly indicating what kinds of programs you are applying to (e.g., MSW programs) and indicating the due dates for each letter of recommendation. In this same letter, let me know the following:
* What classes you took (or are taking) with me (if any)
* What grades you received in said classes
* If you are/were my advisee
* The year you graduated (if you are an alumnus)
* If you conducted research with me on some specific project(s)

E. Provide one extra envelope with your name/address and a stamp if you want me to send you a copy of the letter I write (even if you sign a waiver saying you give up your right to see the letter, I want all my students to see what I have written – I feel you should have that right).
F. FOR EACH LETTER THAT IS TO BE SENT TO YOU DIRECTLY (Paper only), write on the back of the actual envelope (possibly in pencil) the name of the school (and program) to which you will ultimately send it (so to avoid confusion).

4. Consider the instructions here a final test from me – if you follow all these guidelines perfectly, that will only help the letter I write. If you miss half the points delineated herein, not so good …

5. Get materials from all schools to me at the same time. For example, do not get me one reference form at one point and then two more the next week, etc. It is most efficient if I do all your letters and get them off in one shot.

6. Status: I always like to hear how things go for students – if/when you get in somewhere, let me know – because that will make me happy!

7. Check out The Self Monitor (the official newsletter of the NP Psychology Alumni) – and think about submitting a blurb about yourself (now or at a later point) so we can all hear about your successes!

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Glenn’s contact info:

Glenn Geher, Ph.D.
Director of Evolutionary Studies
Chair and Professor of Psychology
State University of New York at New Paltz
600 Hawk Dr
JFT 314
New Paltz, NY 12561

Office: JFT 314a
Phone:  (845) 257-3091
Fax: (845) 257-3474
E-mail: geherg@newpaltz.edu
Homepage: http://www.glenngeher.com

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